Bennett receives major backlash over government’s plan to settle Bedouin squatters in the state lands.
By Aryeh Savir, TPS
Right-wing politicians and organizations expressed rage and dismay following a report that the government, headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, has agreed on a compromise with a Bedouin clan that has illegally taken control of land at a strategic point near Jerusalem.
According to a report on Channel 12, the illegal post of Khan al-Ahmar will be evacuated and will be rebuilt 300 meters away from its current location, on state lands.
The High Court of Justice has ruled that the outpost should be removed, and the government has asked for a deferment time and again.
This latest solution is being formulated by the defense establishment and the National Security Council in preparation for another decisive High Court hearing in March.
Responding to the report, The Regavim Movement, which was the first to petition the High Court over a decade ago for the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar, stated that “this hair-brained scheme hatched by the Ministry of Defense will turn the Palestinian Authority’s flagship outpost in Judea and Samaria into a permanent, recognized Palestinian settlement.”
Meir Deutsch, Regavim’s director-general, said the PA “targeted this point on the map precisely because of its critical strategic value as the link between Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jericho – an area where there is no Palestinian Arab presence.”
“Enabling the takeover and de facto annexation of this strategic location will be a fiasco for the security and strategic integrity of the State of Israel,” he warned.
Deutsch added that “the government invested millions, preparing an alternative location for Khan al-Ahmar on Israeli state land in Jahalin West near Abu Dis. The relocation of the squatters has been stalled solely due to European pressure.”
“It is inconceivable that the very same members of this government who repeatedly attacked [former prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu for his failure to evacuate the squatters of Khan al Ahmar are now responsible for this bizarre, pathetic alternative – one that is far worse in every way,” Deutsch stressed.
“The planned relocation will do little to improve the lives of the squatters, but it will set a dangerous precedent of state-sanctioned annexation for the dozens of illegal squatters’ camps throughout the region that were established according to the Khan al Ahmar model,” he said.
In its recent campaigns, Bennett’s Yamina Party explained that Netanyahu had to be replaced in order to properly fight the Palestinian Authority’s takeover of Area C in Judea and Samaria, to stop the loss of state land in the Negev to Bedouin squatters, to restore the rule of law to the Galilee and the Negev, and to evacuate the illegal outpost known as Khan al Ahmar.
The heads of the Land of Israel Lobby in the Knesset, MKs Yoav Kish and Orit Strook, stated that the reported solution “is a fake-evacuation with extremely dangerous wide-ranging consequences.”
“The damage done by the approving of Khan al-Ahmar is enormous, which in practice means that the State of Israel approves the Palestinian takeover plan for this strategic area. Khan al-Ahmar should be evacuated as determined by the court, and not establish with our own hands a Palestinian outpost in the heart of Mishor Adumim,” they demanded.
‘National, Zionist and strategic security folly’
Chairman of Religious Zionism party MK Bezalel Smotrich stated that “there is no red line that the Bennett-Shaked-Abbas government will not cross and there is no value that it will not sell for the sake of its political survival.”
“The arrangement of Khan al-Ahmar in the strategic space between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea is no longer just a violation of Bennett and Shaked’s election promise, but a national, Zionist and strategic security folly, and a fatal violation of Israel’s sovereignty,” he charged.
“Bennett and Shaked are folding under hypocritical pressure from Europe and implementing the Palestinian Authority’s strategic plans to create Arab territorial continuities and cut off the continuum of Israeli settlement, on the way to establishing a Palestinian terrorist state in the heart of Israel,” he warned.
“This is a prize for terrorism, a prize for crime, a prize for Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] for filing the lawsuit against Israel in the International Court of Justice in The Hague and a fatal blow to settlement and Zionism,” he added. “No cynical move to pay lip service to the settlement will whiten this sin, which completes the transition process of Bennett, Shaked and their partners deep into the left-wing’s arms of Oslo.”
The Khan al Ahmar saga, more than a decade long, has been heard in multiple High Court of Justice petitions.
In 2018, the Israeli government announced its intention to complete the evacuation and relocation of the illegal outpost, the flagship of the Palestinian Authority’s systematic program of territorial dominance in Area C, but has since repeatedly postponed the court-ordered action.
The Jahalin Bedouin, the residents of Kahn Al-Ahmar, are an offshoot of a larger tribe based in southern Israel. After a blood feud that occurred within the tribe in the 1970s, some of the families were forced out and migrated north, arriving and settling in their present location after the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
The location of the illegal structures is hazardous due to its proximity to Highway 1, a major transportation artery. Khan al Ahmar overlooks the road that connects Jerusalem to the south of Israel in a strategic area.